Yahoo Aims To Renew Interest With Mail, Search Refresh


Yahoo said Thursday that it is planning a major overhaul of its product strategy, including a complete refresh of its Yahoo Search and Mail services, in an effort to generate excitement and attract disenchanted users back to its site.

During a media event Thursday, executives at the Sunnyvale-based Yahoo said that it will unveil a new version of Yahoo Mail touting faster speeds and enhanced security features such as embedded spam blocking. The redesign also will include integration with social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.

Yahoo also said that it is planning a redesign of its Yahoo Search, with a sleeker user interface and more content around entertainment and news.

However, the crux of its refresh will be in the mobile space. The Internet search company is hopping on board the Apple iPad bandwagon with the impending release of an iPad app, scheduled for official launch at the end of 2010 or 2011.

Yahoo executives said that ramping up offerings around smartphones, as well as the Apple iPad and other tablets is a big part of its product strategy going forward.

Taking a page out of Apple's book, which has recently announced streamed TV content on its new Apple TV, Yahoo aims to forge strategic TV network partnerships in order to offer on-demand video content streaming, as well as online gaming and shopping. Like its biggest competitor Google, it will also be incorporating social networking features into its spate of services.

Many critics maintain that Yahoo's push is a last gasp effort to stay afloat and retain relevancy in the search and media space. Once the envy of the Internet, Yahoo is often overlooked as the red-headed stepchild, falling a distant second behind search engine giant Google in recent years, which has retained about 65 to 66 percent of the search market. Yahoo has hovered at around 17 percent.

While Yahoo has more than 600 million users worldwide, beleaguered executives have lamented that its audience is dwindling as users consistently turn to sites such as Google and Facebook for their search and social networking needs. That fact was evidenced by the fact that Yahoo's revenue fell to $6.5 billion in 2009 from $7.2 billion in 2008.

Meanwhile, a study released Tuesday by Nielson indicated that Microsoft's search engine Bing had also surpassed the struggling Internet company in marketshare. The Nielson report however conflicted with that of Comscore's, which continued to establish Yahoo as the No. 2 search engine with 17.4 percent of the market.

Critics have said that part of the reason for the mass exodus was due to an identity crisis that resulted in a loss of focus. Even now, Yahoo struggles to define itself, calling itself both a media company and a technology company.